EU Energy Chief Optimistic on Paris Climate Deal Ratification

  • European Commission’s Sefcovic hopes for deal on EU approval
  • Sefcovic expects EU ratification during Sept. 30 meeting

European Union energy chief Maros Sefcovic said he hoped for a deal this week on a fast-track ratification by the 28-nation bloc of the global climate-protection deal.

EU environment ministers are set to gather in Brussels on Sept. 30 to decide whether to give the green light to an accelerated approval of the Paris agreement at the union level, a step that would allow the bloc to join the accord before many member states finalize their domestic ratification procedures. Poland, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity production, said on Friday that it will endorse the fast-track route only if its national interests are secured.

“I believe that a responsible approach will prevail,” Sefcovic told reporters in Bratislava on Monday. “The EU has been a leader in the fight against climate change, so it would be strange if we are not at the table at the moment when the agreement kicks off.”

The Slovak presidency of the EU aims to finalize the union-level approval by Oct. 7. The date matters because the climate deal will be enacted 30 days after its ratification requirements -- approval by at least 55 parties accounting for 55 percent of global emissions -- have been met. If they are reached at the beginning of next month, the first meeting of the parties to the agreement, known in the climate jargon as CMA, could take place during the next annual United Nations climate conference, scheduled to start in Morocco on Nov. 7.

Increasing Pressure

The EU has been under increasing pressure to formally join the deal after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ratified it on Sept. 3. So far 61 parties responsible for almost 48 percent of pollution have approved the accord, according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The ratification by the EU, which accounts for around 12 percent of pollution, could meet the 55 percent threshold.

While Poland pledged fast domestic ratification of the Paris deal, its Environment Minister Jan Szyszko said on Friday that “a common EU ratification is a different issue." In a decision on an accelerated approval, Poland wants the EU to take into account its “specific” emissions situation, including over-achievement of emissions target under the previous climate treaty and the role of forests in absorbing greenhouse gases.

“I’m convinced that the Slovak presidency will manage to conclude these negotiations,” Sefcovic said. “A clear call has been voiced also at a leaders summit in Bratislava and if my information is correct everybody including the Polish prime minister agreed on such ratification as soon as possible.”

Leaders of 27 EU nations gave a political nod to the fast ratification of the Paris agreement at their informal meeting earlier this month, according to French President Francois Hollande. All members of the bloc stand ready to ratify the accord as soon as possible and the European Parliament will cast its vote at the beginning of October, Hollande said on Sept. 16 after the summit in Bratislava.

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